The Importance of Siblings, My Cousin, and Old Friends

I have two sisters and two brothers, and each one of them is a part of me. For many years, I lived relatively close to them all. Now I live fifteen hundred miles away. I can’t just get in my car for a quick visit. I have to save $, and plan carefully so that I can see them all.

May 8th I flew to Newport to begin my week east with my cousin Dorothy. I unfolded myself into her life: walks on the beach, yoga, lobster pizza, clam chowder, talks about books, family, health. I am now reading a book that Dorothy’s husband, Jim, recommended: Memories, Dreams, Reflections—C. J. Jung’s telling of his life story. It is an educational experience, filling me up with new ideas, making me think about the formation of individuality and identity.

After a few days, I rented a car in Newport and drove to my older sister Krissie’s house in Connecticut. It rained the whole time I was there, so we didn’t do much other than drive around to see the countryside in the rain, and talk. We got into our sister zone, where we discussed beloved places from our childhoods, memories of our parents, our children, her grandchildren, animals, plants, and books. We went to her local library, where we talked to her friend the librarian. Krissie took home several books that the librarian recommended, two of which I have read: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn, and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer.

After a couple of days with Krissie, I drove into NYC to drop off my rental car. Once there, I immediately resumed my NY identity, dodging traffic through familiar streets. Yeah, I’m young again! I can manage New York’s vibrancy and complexity. Yes, I can!

I happily walked from the Upper East Side to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I sat on one of the benches in the entryway for an hour enjoying the different mix of people, looking at their clothes, listening to their voices.

I’ll come back tomorrow to experience some art, I thought. Before I left, I decided which exhibition I wanted to see: “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.”

I was treated to dinner and spent the night at the apartment of one of my oldest friends. This friend and her husband have seen me through many different lives. When I looked across the table at them, I still saw the eighteen-year-olds I knew from college. What does each of them see looking at me?

The next day after the Metropolitan, I took my suitcase to Penn Station and placed it in baggage. Then, because I was late, I quickly headed to the Museum of Modern Art to meet my youngest brother, Michael John, for lunch and the Cartier-Bresson exhibit. Although we didn’t really talk about what we each saw, I did go back when my brother said, “Did you see Jung, Capote?” My brother is a writer. He has recently written a treatment and is about to begin work on the screenplay.

I made it to New Jersey Transit in time for the ten to four. My older sister Randi (pronounced Rondi) met me at Princeton Junction. This sister does not really drink wine, but over dinner she sipped a little with me. Her husband cooked and we talked. Listening to her discuss her life, I thought that what she says makes a lot of sense. When I went to bed, she put a little nightlight in the bathroom for me. As a child, she was always my light in the dark, and perhaps I was a little that way for her, too.

Early next morning, my younger brother Stephen picked me up, drove me to his house, and cooked me breakfast. His wife’s chickens had laid the eggs we ate. Warm and yummy! Stephen and I talked about his art projects. He took me to see his wife’s flower shop, then drove me to the airport.

I made it back to Lawrence without any travel hitches. Paul bounded toward me at the airport, as happy to see me as a joyful puppy. I am filled to the brim with my love for sisters, brothers, a cousin, friends, husband, and, not mentioned in this blog, my adult children, and adult stepchildren.